In spondylolisthesis, one of the bones in your spine — called a vertebra — slips forward and out of place. This may occur anywhere along the spine, but is most common in the lower back (lumbar spine). In some people, this causes no symptoms at all. Others may have back and leg pain that ranges from mild to severe.
Understanding how your spine works can help you better understand spondylolisthesis. Learn more about spine anatomy at Spine Basics.
Back pain in adolescents is not like back pain in adults. Compared to an adult, an adolescent with a backache is more likely to have a serious underlying disorder. This is especially true if the child is 4 years old or younger, or if a child of any age has back pain accompanied by:
More serious causes of back pain need early identification and treatment or they may become worse.
Cervical radiculopathy, commonly called a “pinched nerve” occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated where it branches away from the spinal cord. This may cause pain that radiates into the shoulder, as well as muscle weakness and numbness that travels down the arm and into the hand.
Cervical radiculopathy is often caused by “wear and tear” changes that occur in the spine as we age, such as arthritis. In younger people, it is most often caused by a sudden injury that results in a herniated disk.
In most cases, cervical radiculopathy responds well to conservative treatment that includes medication and physiotherapist.
Neck pain can be caused by many things—but is most often related to getting older. Like the rest of the body, the disks and joints in the neck (cervical spine) slowly degenerate as we age. Cervical spondylosis, commonly called arthritis of the neck, is the medical term for these age-related, wear-and-tear changes that occur over time.
Cervical spondylosis is extremely common. More than 85 percent of people over the age of 60 are affected. The condition most often causes pain and stiffness in the neck—although many people with cervical spondylosis experience no noticeable symptoms. In most cases, cervical spondylosis responds well to conservative treatment that includes medication and physiotherapist.
Congenital muscular torticollis, also called twisted neck or wryneck, is a condition in which an infant holds his or her head tilted to one side and has difficulty turning the head.
In congenital torticollis, the muscle that extends down the side of the neck – the sternocleidomastoid muscle — is tight and shortened. For most babies, stretching exercises and simple changes in how the infant is held or positioned will gradually lengthen the muscle and correct the problem.
Kyphosis is a spinal disorder in which an excessive outward curve of the spine results in an abnormal rounding of the upper back. The condition is sometimes known as “roundback” or—in the case of a severe curve—as “hunchback.” Kyphosis can occur at any age, but is common during adolescence.
In the majority of cases, kyphosis causes few problems and does not require treatment. Occasionally, a patient may need to wear a back brace or do exercises in order to improve his or her posture and strengthen the spine. In severe cases, however, kyphosis can be painful, cause significant spinal deformity, and lead to breathing problems. Patients with severe kyphosis may need surgery to help reduce the excessive spinal curve and improve their symptoms.
Almost everyone will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. This pain can vary from mild to severe. It can be short-lived or long-lasting. However it happens, low back pain can make many everyday activities difficult to do.
A common cause of low back and leg pain is lumbar spinal stenosis.
As we age, our spines change. These normal wear-and-tear effects of aging can lead to narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition is called spinal stenosis.
Degenerative changes of the spine are seen in up to 95% of people by the age of 50. Spinal stenosis most often occurs in adults over 60 years old. Pressure on the nerve roots is equally common in men and women.
A small number of people are born with back problems that develop into lumbar spinal stenosis. This is known as congenital spinal stenosis. It occurs most often in men. People usually first notice symptoms between the ages of 30 and 50.
The neck (cervical spine) is composed of vertebrae that begin in the upper torso and end at the base of the skull. The bony vertebrae along with the ligaments (which are comparable to thick rubber bands) and muscles provide stability to the spine. The muscles allow for support and motion. The neck has a significant amount of motion and supports the weight of the head. However, because it is less protected than the rest of the spine, the neck can be vulnerable to injury and disorders that produce pain and restrict motion. For many people, neck pain is a temporary condition that disappears with time. Others need medical diagnosis and treatment to relieve their symptoms.
If you suddenly start feeling pain in your lower back or hip that radiates to the back of your thigh and into your leg, you may have a protruding (herniated) disk in your spinal column that is pressing on the nerve roots in the lumbar spine. This condition is known as sciatica.
Spondylolysis (spon-dee-low-lye-sis) and spondylolisthesis (spon-dee-low-lis-thee-sis) are common causes of low back pain in young athletes.
Spondylolysis is a crack or stress fracture in one of the vertebrae, the small bones that make up the spinal column. The injury most often occurs in children and adolescents who participate in sports that involve repeated stress on the lower back, such as gymnastics, football, and weight lifting.
In some cases, the stress fracture weakens the bone so much that it is unable to maintain its proper position in the spine—and the vertebra starts to shift or slip out of place. This condition is called spondylolisthesis.
For most patients with spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis, back pain and other symptoms will improve with conservative treatment. This always begins with a period of rest from sports and other strenuous activities.
Patients who have persistent back pain or severe slippage of a vertebra, however, may need surgery to relieve their symptoms and allow a return to sports and activities.